Teaching Kids Independence for a Successful School Year
by Keriann Wilmot
The beginning of the school year is always a big transition as children and parents adjust to the timing of their new daily routines and the demands of more challenging academic work. My work as a pediatric occupational therapist has allowed me to teach hundreds of children the skills of dressing themselves, which includes mastering fasteners like buttons or snaps and completing the art of tying their shoelaces. As a parent myself, I know from experience, as my own son exhibits independence with basic life skills the more time, energy and patience I seem to have to help him with those challenging activities he can’t complete on his own.
Before the homework really piles on, these are some of my favorite CWIST challenges that will help motivate and encourage your children to demonstrate an improvement in their self-help skills. Not only will learning how to do these simple tasks have a positive impact on their self-esteem, but they can hopefully allow everyone to get out of the house on-time with as little morning drama as possible!
This CWIST challenge will teach your child how to appropriately choose an outfit for the following day, by creating a routine that encourages them to check the weather forecast, identify the proper clothing and place it in a consistent place in the home every night before school. This simple routine change, if followed consistently, can alleviate a lot of the stress in the morning that comes with coordinating the perfect outfit, finding those comfy clothes that feel “just right,” and arguments over why wearing a tanktop isn’t a good choice given the impeding snowstorm.
This particular CWIST challenge includes a video demonstration, as well as color-coded picture cues of how to tie shoelaces. With the invention of Velcro and more comfortable slip-on dress shoes, it seems that fewer children have actually learned how to tie their own shoelaces. No doubt, in my opinion, shoe tying is one of the most complicated fine motor tasks a child will ever learn to coordinate. It’s so rewarding to help motivate children to learn this milestone and believe me, your child’s teachers will thank you for it!
While as a parent I still might do a spot check after toothbrushing, during this CWIST children learn about the importance of consistently brushing their teeth, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash for two minutes, twice a day.
As schedules become more hectic and chaotic, it’s often much easier to hit the drive-thru than to consistently make healthy food choices. However, the sooner that children develop more awareness of the types of food that fuel their body in a positive way, they may realize that they have more energy and attention for their sports teams and hoework.
About the Author
Keriann Wilmot, a passionate toy enthusiast, began her career as a pediatric occupational therapist 15 years ago. She could have never predicted the profound impact that toys and the role of play would have in helping children achieve developmental milestones in such fun, natural ways. Several years ago, in an effort to help all parents find toys that their children would enjoy playing with, Keri began incorporating toy recommendations and other helpful play hints into her personal website. Many people know her as the “ToyQueen!” Keri has also been providing toy related to content as the Toys Expert at About.com since July 2011.